Building a sustainable economy is what every politician and business leader drives towards.
Yet the demands of the Western world are such that it’s become a real challenge to do this - we’ve used up much of earth’s natural resources, still failing to improve people’s lives in the world’s most cash-rich nations.
China, seen as the poster child of modern-day economic development, has seen remarkable progression over the last 20-30 years. Now the second biggest economy in the world, it’s close to topping $10bn in GDP.
China’s growth was primarily borne out of its market-orientated reforms, which turned a blind eye to sustainability and encouraged rapid growth. Unfortunately this came at a cost, with pollution and environmental decay accounting for 10.51% of its GDP back in 2008.
Since then, there’s been considerable pressure on China to restructure its reforms to make them more sustainable and to protect the country’s future.
Despite having the same landmass as the United States, only 10% of it is liveable, meaning that it’s imperative that they keep what they have in the best possible condition. However, there still remains a certain sub-section that continues to believe that sustainable strategies shouldn’t be implemented at the detriment of economic growth.
The truth is that environment and growth are two sides of the same coin, there is no choice between growing and protecting the environment, they are reliant on one another.
In the words of Global Times reporters Chen Chenchen, Wang Jingtao and Zhai Yafei - ‘Economic growth requires resources, energy and human efforts. It creates pollution, waste, and threats to the climate. You don't have a choice in China between "we will grow" or "we will protect the environment.’
In a recent article in the Guardian, Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill came to the conclusion that we can build an economy that’s both sustainable and beneficial to us all, but it requires longterm strategic planning.
For a country that holds as much power as China, it has to encourage sustainability whenever possible. If you ever have been to China you’ll know that you can get off a high-speed train, walk 5 minutes and be in a village that doesn’t even have roads. This is indicative of a country that’s grown considerably on the surface, but not so much in reality.
Building towards a sustainable economy is still something which governments cannot ignore, and if China’s to become the power that it could and should be, it will have to do more in terms of its reforms.